Upon entering the restaurant, we were quite relieved that we hadn't booked. Aside from one couple, the restaurant was empty and deathly quiet. We sat down, and decided to order the special meat feast. We weren't sure what would be best from the menu, and this seemed the best way to try out a range of dishes. Unfortunately our waiter wasn't exactly chatty; I'd have liked to ask more questions about the food, but the language barrier prevented this.
When the food came, the injera was brought out first on a large metal platter for all of us to share. This was to be the vehicle in which you shovel the food into your mouth. There's no cutlery here. The injera was quite sour due to the flour being left to ferment, much like a sourdough, and was more of a pancake with a crumpet-like look to it. Next, our dishes were spooned on top of the injera, and we attacked it like hungry wolves.
There were two minced dishes, a chicken (on the bone) dish, an egg and mince dish and some lamb. The 'mixed vegetable' dish was potato wedges, topped with some cabbage, and finally some spinach. These were well spiced, some spicy and some mild. Textures aside, these were quite difficult to differentiate between. I'd have preferred some proper vegetables, as a meal without any makes me feel uneasy and the potato and injera combination was quite stodgy.
My favourite dish of the night was the lamb chunks. Originally, the menu offered lambs liver and tripe, which we swapped for this as the description of it cooked in a claypot sounded better.
The chunks were tender, juicy and spicy. The injera soaked up all the juices from the meat and became spongy and was very tasty. It's filling stuff though, and after demolishing the plate, we were fit to pop.
Included in this set meal was traditional coffee. It was a bit of a bizarre moment, as the waiter brought out a small saucepan with coffee beans roasting in it, and showed it to a nearby table who had finished their meal a little earlier. The smell of roasting beans filled the (now half full) restaurant.
We were presented with the coffee accompanied by this giant bowl of warm, salted popcorn. Once again, I was unable to ask the waiter of why this is served with the coffee, but we ploughed through it. Popcorn is so moreish. The coffee, said to be like rocket fuel, was rather medicinal tasting and thankfully didn't keep me awake all night.
I enjoyed the meal a lot, although after a while I became a bit bored with the injera; it was a touch too sour for my tastes and it was very filling. The meat was well cooked and decently spiced and the meal was a bargain; £18 a head including service for the meat feast, a beer and a shared bottle of wine between 4.
I'd like to return, and perhaps sample some vegetable dishes for a bit of variation. Dining a little later, say at 8:30pm instead of an hour earlier might be better too, as the atmosphere definitely picked up as the restaurant filled up.
386 Coldharbour Lane,
London SW9 8LF
Tel: 020 7737 4144